Groton Utilities commissioner resigns over Kentucky Derby trip

Groton — Groton Utilities Commissioner Edward DeMuzzio resigned on Monday and the Groton City Council voted to accept the recommendations of the Board of Ethics critical of DeMuzzio and two other Groton Utilities officials for attending a 2016 trip to the Kentucky Derby.

The ethics board had recommended that DeMuzzio resign or be removed from his positions on the Groton Utilities Commission and the Bozrah Utilities Commission by Dec. 31. But before the City Council could vote on the board recommendation Monday, DeMuzzio stood before the council and resigned immediately from both boards. He said he would also voluntarily contribute $7,500 to the charity of his choice.

The Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative hosted the Derby trip, which cost $342,330 for 44 participants.

DeMuzzio defended himself and his colleagues, GU General Manager of Utility Finance David Collard and GU Director Ronald Gaudet. They made an error in judgment and were unfairly classified as unethical, DeMuzzio said.

“I served the United States Coast Guard for over 25 years and saved 36 lives,” DeMuzzio said. “I’ve served the City of Groton at CMEEC for over 10 years and during that time, the estimated savings to our ratepayers was over $36 million. I think it is a travesty to classify an error in judgment as unethical.”

“David Collard and Ron Gaudet did not deserve that classification. David has served the City of Groton and the City of Bozrah for over 44 years. And now by participating in CMEEC-sponsored events, is being reprimanded. I find that difficult to accept,” DeMuzzio said.

The recommendations approved Monday recommend that DeMuzzio and Collard pay a $100 fine to the City of Groton, pay $7,500 to Groton Human Services programs to support needy families by Dec. 31, and that a letter of reprimand be placed in their personal files for violation of the ethics code. Collard would remain in his job.

Gaudet, who attended the trip but only for one day, would be fined $100 to the City of Groton, and pay a recommended $3,250 to Groton Human Services by Dec. 31, and have a letter of reprimand placed in his file for violating the ethics code under the recommendations approved by the City Council. Gaudet would remain in his position.

The ethics board found that Collard also violated the ethics code by attending a trip to the Kentucky Derby in 2015, and the penalties for both violations were folded into a single recommendation approved by the council.

The ethics board recommended that the City Council dismiss a complaint about participation in a retreat to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia in October 2015, a complaint about “free Thames Valley Cable service” and a complaint about a 2013 Kentucky Derby trip. The council accepted the recommendations and dismissed those complaints.

 

 

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